Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 320

Thursday 15th November 1984


Half-Script Day!

I got up at 7.45, and when I went downstairs, I opened all my cards. At 8.55 Doug came and gave me two quid, then we went to school. First was Science, then I got a MERIT in Music. Next, came Geog and at 12.00 I had dinner.

‘DINNER TIME TILL BEDTIME’ in magnificent handwriting

After our small but tasty lunch, Myself and Doug decided it was time to part. Courageously, I endured an hour and more of Mr Hendry in DT, then myself and Doug met up happily in the RE room. Next came a surprise (oooh!) The whole of 1CW had to shift some chairs outside. It was strenuous, but we slept it off in History.

I came home, and I ate my nourishing tea. At 8.00 I watched Don’t wait up, at 8.30 I watched ZOO2000, and at 9.30 I came and wrote this very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, silly account of my 12th birthday.

Yay! Ridiculous though it sounds (and you certainly wouldn’t guess it from the ramblings above) my twelfth birthday hit me quite hard. By the end of the day I was swigging neat Lucozade from the bottle and chain-chewing sweet cigarettes. I just remember waking up on this frosty morning, 25 years ago today, and – for the first time ever – my usual thoughts of…


…were tempered by the realisation that I really wasn’t a kid any more. It felt slightly surreal to be TWELVE YEARS OLD, especially as being eleven still seemed a BIT intimidating and scary. Anyway, the resulting feeling of melancholy lasted approximately forty seconds, and dispensed as soon as crinkled pound notes starting falling out of hastily-opened birthday cards.

OK, a couple of little snippets to clear up… I do indeed share a birthday with my Dad! I was born on his 33rd birthday, November 15th 1972, and he crashed his Sunbeam Alpine on the way back from Parkside Maternity Hospital in Middlesbrough (‘Do not underestimate the power of the Parkside’). Which means that, 25 years ago today, my Dad turned 45… and he’ll have celebrated with the same joie de vivre (‘All a load of bloody rubbish’) that he did on the morning of his 70th birthday today. Happy birthday Dad!

And ‘Half Script Day’ refers to the fact that I’ve written the first half of my diary in the below, bizarrely mannered handwriting…

It must have taken me a bloody age to do, which probably explains why I gave up halfway down the page (the ‘CHAPTER II’ bit onwards is just in my normal scribble).

If you’re wondering about the lack of actual presents, I think the answer to this is pretty simple. By now, it was the worst kept secret in Yarm that I was getting that long-coveted ZX Spectrum 48K computer for Christmas. And so – in preparation for this – I’d asked for nothing more than hard, filthy lucre for my birthday, so I could buy a few of my preferred games in advance and have them ready to play at 6.30am on Christmas morning. 

Naturally, my relatives had seized the chance to avoid traipsing around WH Smiths and Leslie Brown’s Toy Shop looking for remotely appropriate gifts for me, and so virtually every card had a couple of those new-fangled pound coins sellotaped inside them. Including Doug’s, and it was lovely to see my best mate so early on my birthday morning.

I’d been good mates with Doug on my previous birthday, in November 1983, but our friendship hadn’t quite blossomed to the extent that it did over the ensuing year. I don’t think, for example, that he’d actually visited my house at all by the time of my eleventh birthday. But by November 1984 he was virtually part of the family, and even Poggy Doggy had stopped trying to savage him (although he still unleased the occasional stream of steaming pee over Doug’s polished BMX spokes).

This feeling of warm-hearted cameraderie lasted until 9.o2am, when Doug joined forces with Messrs Burton, Farrage, Thompson, Haworth, Potter, Spayne et al to wrestle me to the filthy tiled floor outside our form room, grab me forcefully by the arms and legs and deliver the traditional ‘birthday bumps’. I’m guessing this was pretty common practice throughout the country, but just in case – this involved the unwilling birthday boy being spreadeagled on the floor, pinned down by his jeering mates, then hoisted repeatedly into the air (to at least head height, otherwise it didn’t count) for every year that he’d been alive.

So I was thrust aggressively towards the polystyrene ceiling tiles twelve times, plus ‘ONE FOR LUCK!!!!’ (which was, traditionally, the nastiest and most violent of them all) before being dropped unceremoniously to the floor and having a few playful kicks aimed at my quivering fleshy bits.

I’m glad the tradition hasn’t been maintained, I wouldn’t fancy the prospect of a strapping Burton and Farrage embarking on the first of 37 birthday bumps (and one for luck) these days. And neither, I imagine, would they. One of us would put our back out, and the other two would probably need oxygen afterwards.  

Anyway, despite of a bit of uncharacteristic manual labour (which I don’t remember at all – any former 1cW-ers any idea why we were shifting chairs around?) I seem to have maintained a fine birthday tradition of slacking, shirking and general shoddiness on this day, because NONE of my exercise books contain a single jot of written work with 15.11.84 scribbled in the adjacent margin.

So let’s face it, you’re bloody lucky to have got this much out of me today. Send your pound notes to the usual address… 🙂



  Chris Byers wrote @

Just a quick guess as to why we were moving chairs about. At some point during our first year there was a production of Oliver, with Mr Hendry playing a very convincing Mr Bumble. I just wonder if we were setting out the chairs for this, as it wasn’t uncommon for us to get roped into doing such things.

Oh and happy birthday Bob, if you were starting to feel that you were getting old at the grand age of 12 I won’t ask how you feel at reaching 37

  bobfischer wrote @

I feel 12 years old, oddly enough… 😉 Thanks!

I’d forgotten all about Oliver! We definitely did put the chairs out in the Gym for this, but I wonder if that was a different day… purely because I’m sure we sat in there afterwards and watched the whole dress rehearsal! Definitely during a school afternoon.

it was an odd production, very much geared around the teaching staff and sixth formers. I think the only person from our year in the whole thing was Kathryn Harris, who had a little role as a flower seller.

I can’t remember which part he played, but one of the sixth form cast was a lad with one of the most impressive displays of acne I’ve ever seen, a gangly youth that the legendary Stephen Mason quickly nicknamed ‘Falklands War’, making ‘whistling bomb’ and explosion noises every time he walked past…

‘Oliver!’ was a bit of a school production staple in the 80s, wasn’t it? I remember Mr Millward helming an ambitious production at Levendale Primary barely two years before this.

  Claire Otterson wrote @

Wasn’t it O’level re-sit time in November? Maybe that would explain the chairs?

  bobfischer wrote @

Oooh yeah, good call! I reckon that was it. I think Oliver might have been just a little bit closer to Christmas.

  Geoff wrote @

Blimey Bob, I’ve read this blog for a while now thinking “I did that too” “I thought that as well”. I shared your Blankety Blank seating theory and also rate the JNT, Saward Davison era highly. Now I find out you have also stolen my birthday, even the same year of birth too!
Don’t get me wrong I love your blog but each entry makes me feel slightly less unique than the one before!

  bobfischer wrote @

Ha, cheers Geoff! Glad you’ve enjoyed this rubbish. If it helps restore your uniqueness, I’ve probably changed my mind about half of this stuff since 2009. I’m very fickle!

Challenge TV have been showing Wogan and Dawson Blankety Blanks recently though, and the theory holds. Phew!

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